The winter season always seems to nudge me in the direction of making warmer spicier beverages. I often feel the need to get cozy and just curl up with a good book while sipping on an intense drink, especially during the holidays. It’s such a great time to hunker down and delve into some serious reading and sipping that I don’t get around to the rest of the time.
My favorite get-mellow-with-a-book drinks tend to be tea concoctions made with warm spices, natural sweeteners, and healthy fats such as coconut and nuts. Teas subtly infuse blended drinks with interesting flavors: each one adding its own unique stamp. It doesn’t hurt that teas also provide healing properties that makes them just perfect for nestling and nurturing. Tea and couch, I’m there.
I became an avid herbal tea drinker when I scaled back on coffee. At first I was very utilitarian about my teas, using them more for specific health needs. I had the idea that if I drank enough of them all of my ailments would disappear. Yes they helped me, a lot. However I was oblivious to their seemingly endless array of flavors and characteristics.
It wasn’t until a several years ago that I began to look at herbal teas in a new light and appreciate them as more than just medicinal concoctions. Teas are incredibly versatile and add a whole new dimension to recipes Seasoned Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup with Jasmine, Pau d’Arco Passion Latte , Pau D’Arco Apple Spice Tea. For this exotic and creamy drink I turned to licorice tea as the base. Licorice: that age old flavor that never goes out of vogue.
Licorice is one of those flavors that’s hard to miss. It has a cool sensation about it, somewhere between refreshing and bitter with a sweet accent. I venture to say that most people either love it or hate it. Licorice is also known as “sweet root” because the root is very sweet, in fact sweeter than sugar cane. The root looks wrinkled, fibrous, long and round; like wood sticks. It grows wild in Europe and Asia where it’s been in use for thousands of years for a number of ailments.
Licorice is a natural expectorant (often used in cough syrups), alleviates ulcers and canker sores, and improves digestive issues such as acid reflux and indigestion. Turns out, licorice is also a dieter’s best friend by helping reduce body fat and acting as a natural appetite suppressant and mild laxative. Licorice, like all herbs, wears a lot of hats.
This shake is a thick luscious and warm-spiced with a touch of licorice flavor from both the licorice tea and star anise (botanically unrelated to anise but similar in taste). It’s potent, soothing and sweet; a great way to escape the routine, burrow into a mental retreat, and happily succumb to some needed nurturing. I hope you take some time to escape to a safe place with a good book, a soft pillow, and this delicious drink.
This recipe is dairy-free and serves 2 persons.
Succumb To Licorice Shake
- The banana is purely optional for added sweetness.
- You can use any sweetener you want. I like the ones I listed because they have stronger flavors but add whatever you want.
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 – 8 hours then drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups very warm (not hot) water
- 2 tsp licorice bulk tea or 2 licorice tea bags
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp gold flax oil (optional for “buttery” flavor)
- 1 banana (optional)
- 1/2 tsp ground star anise or anise seed
- 1/4 -1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla or vanilla-flavored stevia to taste
- 2 Tbsp coconut nectar or blackstrap molasses or coconut/palm sugar or other sweetener of choice to taste
- Steep licorice tea in the warm water for 15 – 45 minutes (depending on how strong you want it).
- Add steeped tea to a blender. If you are using tea bags, squeeze out any excess moisture from the tea bags into the blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly until smooth and creamy. The beverage will be very warm and may even steam a bit when you take off the lid of the blender.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 3 days. If storing, re-blend until warm before serving.